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The NSA has released a statement sidestepping questions about whether it spies on members of Congress. On Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) asked NSA head Keith Alexander if the agency was "spying," or had ever spied, on American Congress members or other elected officials. Today, the NSA provided an equivocal answer, promising that Congress has "the same privacy protections as all US persons. "NSA's authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons," reads the statement, provided to The Guardian. "Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons. NSA is fully committed to transparency with Congress."Sanders' letter said that his definition of spying "would include gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business." The NSA said that it was "reviewing" the letter and would work to give Sanders and other members of Congress more information, but it didn't deny using any of the above surveillance techniques. If anything, saying that Congress members receive the same protections as other citizens implies that their information is indeed being collected and could theoretically be queried as part of an investigation. Previously, US intelligence agencies have been found to have monitored the phones of national leaders abroad, including German chancellor Angela Merkel..